Faithlife updated their popular Bible study software with a major new release, Logos 9. In addition, Faithlife bought Wordsearch from Lifeway Christian Resources, surprising the Bible software market.
At first glance, long time Logos users might not notice the new features without close investigation. A mature and powerful platform for Bible study is hard to improve upon, but the folks at Faithlife added enough new features, that they think it’s worth going from version 8 to Logos 9. We’ll take a look at the best new features. You can learn more about Logos Bible Software by reading our past articles.
Logos 9 Overview Video
New Logos 9 User Interface Tweaks
Logos 9 mostly looks just like previous versions. The Home Page shows you a Dashboard of layouts, courses, devotionals, prayer lists, and reading plans. You also have access to an Explore section that shows links to books, articles, and books you can buy.
We still see the toolbar across the top with the Home, Library, and Search and Command Box on the left. There’s a series of buttons used to open features like your Logos 9 Docs, Guides, and Tools. You can add buttons for books or tools by dragging them to the toolbar. On the far right, you see the Layouts button, a Close All button, and a new Account button. Finally, you’ll see the three dots that make up the program Menu button.
Some other new features include the following:
- Profile button – The new account profile button lets you see links to work with your Faithlife account. This feature came over from Faithlife Proclaim, their worship software. (See the first screenshot above)
- Toolbar Folder Menus – Add buttons to the toolbar by dragging them to the toolbar. You can add books from the Library or Features from the Tools, Guides, or Docs menus. Right-click the new button on your toolbar that you want to add to a folder (#1 directly above). A menu pops up. You’ll see a box labeled Folder. Click inside the box and enter the name of the Folder (#2 above). Next, right-click another button on the toolbar and again enter the name of that folder.
- Toolbar drop-down for buttons that won’t show up when the window’s too small – If you add too many buttons to the toolbar, the old interface would force you to click on a button to scroll left or right. The button didn’t work well. Now there’s a drop-down to show the rest of your toolbar buttons. It has two downward-facing arrows. Click it to see the rest of your buttons. (see screenshot below)
Finally, one of the company’s most requested features shows up in the Application menu at the far right end of the toolbar. Click the three vertical dots to bring up the Application menu and you’ll now see Application Theme (Restart) with options for…
- System – follows your computer’s system preference
- Light – light mode with mostly white or light gray
- Dark – black and dark grays
Dark Theme in Logos 9 Click Application Menu to Change Themes
To use a different mode, you’ll have to restart Logos.
Logos 9 Factbook Update
I never really used the Factbook as a stand-alone tool, which means I never went to the Tools menu and clicked on Factbook to open it. It permeates Logos 9 throughout, so most people eventually interact with it. Now, the Factbook deserves a closer look because the company did a lot to improve the tool.
After opening the Factbook, click in the search box at the top of the Window. Type in something you want to search for or study. What can you look for?
- Greek or Hebrew Lemmas
- Passages like John 3:16
The Factbook includes the following different sections base on what you’re searching for in the Factbook in Logos 9. You find things like a Key Article about that word or topic. You also see passages, media, and more.
New features in the Factbook include…
- Searching for Greek or Hebrew lemmas – autocomplete will help you find the right lemma.
- Autocomplete helps with other Factbook searches with various kinds of searches possible depending on what you start typing.
- Search for a Passage – autocomplete shows a list of possible searches and gives things like topic searches for the book of the Bible, events in the passage, and pericopes for the passage as you type.
Factbook doesn’t just show up in the tool. Open a Bible and you will see a new button on the toolbar of the Bible window. It’s a book with a checkmark on it (see screenshot above). Click to turn on the light blue underlining under key words in every passage. Hover over an underlined word to see a small popup with info from the Factbook. Click on the word to open a Factbook search for that word or phrase.
Sermon Manager and Builder
In a previous version of Logos, Faithlife introduced a feature called Sermon Editor. In Logos 9 they changed the name to Sermon Builder and added a new feature called Sermon Manager to help you work with the sermons built inside Logos.
Open Sermon Builder from the Tools menu. Find it under the Content section of the menu. You’ll see a new window where you can start editing a sermon. After you write the sermon, add content that you can also publish to Faithlife Proclaim, the company’s worship presentation tool which we’ve reviewed here before.
The Sermon Manager feature also shows up under Content from the Tools menu. By default, it opens a new Logos window. You can plan your preaching using the tool.
At the top of the screen, you see a toolbar with buttons to help you plan out your preaching calendar. The buttons and their functions are as follows:
- Facet Sidebar – filter your sermons based on some criteria based on searches
- Search Box – search for a sermon by typing in the search field
- Timeframe Drop Down – show a timeframe for the sermon calendar using the drop-down and choose either a Calendar view or Liturgical view
- Calendar View – shows sermons based on a generic calendar, best for preachers who don’t follow the lectionary
- Liturgical View – automatically adds the Liturgical lectionary dates based on your preferred lectionary
- Radial or Week Grid Views – you can display your sermon preaching plan on a list like a spreadsheet or on a round graph
- Number of Sermons to Add – when you want to add more sermons to your preaching plan, choose from the drop-down from 1 to 100
- Sermon Template – pick a template if you’ve created one or just add a blank sermon. You also pick which lectionary to use from this menu.
- Date – add a sermon or series based on a date on the calendar or use no date to add to the end of the list
- Add – when all of the above are chosen, hit Add to add the sermon or sermons to the plan
- Info Sidebar – when this is open you can select a sermon and the information shows things like Title, Series, Topics, etc.
- Display Menu – customize the look of the window
You can also add things like holidays for your locale and even add birthdays. There’s a Calendars drop down inside the graph window. This shows Faithlife Groups that you’re a member of. Groups are part of Faithlife.com, the company’s social network. Create a group for your Bible Study group and put everyone who uses Logos in the group in there. Then you could add things like the group’s birthdays or anniversaries.
Faithlife added the Counseling Guide to Logos 9. This guide will help a person find content about topics related to counseling. The information comes from resources you might town that are based on counseling.
Open it from the Guides menu. Here’s a tip. Just search in the box at the top of the menu or you can scroll down to the Guides section and click on Counseling Guide.
A blank guide opens with the search box. Type a topic like Temptation. The guide returns content from your library with the following:
- Counseling Topic
- Related Counseling Topics
The Monographs are books written by a sole author. The Passages section lists all passages based on your topic which also lets you create a Passage List of the passages found by Logos 9.
Passage Guide Bible Commentaries Section Gets New Sorting Methods
The Passage Guide hooked me when I first saw it way back in Logos 3. You could enter a passage or topic and it would find tons of content from your library include Commentaries, Dictionaries, and more. They’ve improved it with each update.
This time they took the Commentary Section and tweaked the way you can display results. Sort the commentaries based on…
- Priority – you can create the order you want your commentaries to show by opening your Library and then prioritize your favorite commentaries.
- Series – sort them by series, like all your Expositor’s Bible Commentary series or The Pulpit Commentary series
- Author – shows commentaries by authors in alphabetical order by last name
- Denomination – shows the commentaries based on the author’s preferred denomination, like Baptist, Catholic, etc.
- Type – show all the Exegetical or Homiletic or Application Commentaries or more
- Era – shows when the commentary was published so you can find all your Contemporary, Modern, Reformation, or Nicene commentaries
Reading Plans and Reading Queue Improvements
You’ve been able to create customized reading plans of the Bible or other books for a while. Now you can create new kinds of reading plans. The first involves reading a book at your leisure. This means it doesn’t create reading entries based on date, but just shows you the next reading section each time you open it. That way you won’t get behind in your plan if you miss a day or week or even months, as I’ve done.
Click the Library button on the toolbar (#1 above) and make sure the Info pane is open by clicking the circle with the lower case letter “i” in it (#2 above). Select a book and you’ll see a button called Start reading plan (#1 above). Click it and Logos 9 creates a reading plan broken up by chapters when possible or by equal parts if it’s a Bible.
You can also right-click on the book and choose Start reading plan from the pop-up menu.
The Logos 9 Mobile app will show all your reading plans. On the iOS or Android app, you can also add a book to a second new kind of reading plan. It’s called the Reading Queue. It doesn’t create a reading plan based on chapters but just lists all books you’re currently reading. Each time you open a book it opens to the last spot you were reading.
Logos 9 Mobile App Improvements
Speaking of the Logos 9 Mobile app, Faithlife produces a full suite of Logos 9 Mobile apps depending on your purpose for studying the Bible. Of course, you can find it in iOS for your iPhone or iPad. It also runs on Android and Kindle.
For the first time, the Logos Factbook shows up in the mobile app. With it, you can search for the things you can find on the desktop version like…
- Greek and Hebrew words
- Bible passages
Find it in the menu (the three lines on the right end of the bottom toolbar. Factbook shows up 2nd from the top.
The example of a Factbook search for King Darius from Daniel shows different items related to that Biblical person. We get a Key Article about him from The Lexham Bible Dictionary, media from various sources, entries in language studies, and events from the timeline. There’s a list of other resources too, like Bible dictionary entries. At the bottom, you can perform a full search of the library for our search item.
A second big addition to the mobile app helps preachers who use Logos on their computer to write sermons. The Logos 9 Preaching Mode will show sermons in your Sermon Builder database on your iPad, Android tablet, or even a phone.
Open a sermon from the Sermons item in the menu (three lines in the lower right). Find your sermon and tap it. On the upper right corner of the screen, you see an icon that looks like a pulpit or lectern. Tap it and the user interface changes from showing the Sermon builder to the Preaching Mode version of the sermon. Below you’ll see the above sermon in this mode.
Users of Proclaim worship presentation software also produced by Faithlife can also control their sermon presentation. Just tap on the images in the Preaching Mode to show them on-screen during a Proclaim worship service.
Finally, as we mentioned above, the new Reading Plan upgrades in the desktop app make reading on your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, or phone easier.
You can find out more about new features in the Logos user community. All the images above come from the iPad app, but you’ll find them on your iPhone, Android device, or Kindle.
Note that Faithlife offers various kinds of mobile apps:
- Logos Bible Study Tools – the main full-featured Bible study app with all the features.
- Faithlife Study Bible – a version focused on people who want a mobile study Bible, but also want a powerful mobile Bible study app with most of the features in the main app.
- Faithlife Ebooks – a simpler version mainly designed as a book reader, but still with some useful features.
- Verbum Catholic Bible – like the Logos Bible Study Tools but focused on Catholic users.
- Biblia – a Spanish language version
Find them on iOS, Android, and Kindle. If you’re Catholic, check out Verbum. If you want Spanish, get Biblia. For people who just want to read their books from Faithlife, get the Ebooks app. I use the Logos Bible Study Tools mostly, but if you are a layperson who wants more than just a book reader, but mainly just want a study Bible with some advanced features, then get the Faithlife Study Bible app.
Other New Features and Tools
Logos 9 adds a few other features. We won’t go as deep into each of these.
- New Before and After images – open from the Tools menu
- Bible Books Explorer – shows visual information about each book
- Documents – makes it easier to see what you shared with others and find what others shared with you
- Logos Mobile App Reference Scanner – now you can save references found by the reference scanner to a Passage List which will sync to the desktop (see Logos training video for info on what the scanner does)
- New visualizations – do a Bible search and it shows results, but if you click the Charts button at the top you get new view options to search results visually
- Updated Web App – Logos offers the best online Bible study site if you’re a customer.
On the New visualizations above, open the Facets menu (three horizontal lines in the upper left corner of the Charts window) and you see all the kinds of visualizations available. They added some interesting new view options like Lollipop or Pectoral.
What Wordsearch Customers Can Expect with Logos 9
Just before this release of Logos 9, Faithlife announced they purchased Wordsearch from Lifeway Christian Resources. The popular Bible software program will go away soon and all of the users will now have an account with Logos. They can download Logos 8 for free or upgrade to Logos 9.
A lot of books available in Wordsearch are already available in Logos. Others will comes soon. Sadly, a small list of books won’t make the trip. Wordsearch lost rights to publish some books and if Logos doesn’t own the rights to publish those books, then users will lose access to them. That’s the price of collecting books in a digital library. Learn more about the Wordsearch to Logos transition from Logos. Also, see my post on my personal site about the transition.
We saw the end of Bibleworks a couple of years ago. Now Wordsearch is gone. I doubt Logos will be going away any time soon, so you probably don’t need to worry.
People who are users of Logos 8 or older will likely want to get the new version of Logos 9. It’s not the biggest upgrade we’ve seen from Faithlife, but has some interesting new features. However, if you look above and don’t see anything you’ll likely use then wait till 2021 when they will offer a free upgrade that doesn’t come with many new features or books.
Logos always creates bundles of books that you can buy with your upgrade. If you do see something you like above, then head over to their website and compare the various Base Packages. They offer a ton of them. Make sure to log into your account to get a personalized upgrade price based on what you already own.
- Compare Base Packagers and see your custom upgrade price.
- Subscribe to Faithlife Connect and get Logos for a low monthly payment, but remember you’ll lose access if you quit subscribing. You get more than just Logos 9 so take a look.
- Wait till next year and get the free version.
Many of you became Logos customers when they bought out Wordsearch. It’s harder to decide if you should upgrade. I’d recommend staying put with Logos 8 for a month or more to make sure the user interface and Logos ecosystem is for you. If you like what you see, take the jump and get a small to modest size Base Package.
People using other Bible software have an even harder decision. There’s nothing new in Logos 9 that makes me say make the switch if you looked at Logos 8 and decided not to jump. If you’re using a simplistic tool, then I would suggest you take a serious look at Logos 9. It’s more powerful than basic Bible reader apps and programs. And right now it’s probably one of only three to four programs I’d recommend to serious Bible students.
If this sounds like a mixed review, it is. Logos 9 is a great program with a lot of features, more than I can use. But the new things that come in Logos 9 are not as exciting unless you are a heavy mobile app user or web app user. Then I’d get a look and buy a small package just to get access to those.
Check out these resources related to Bible Study:
3 Best Bible Apps for Maximum Personal Growth
7 Best Bible Memorization Apps
10 Best Simple Bible Study Apps
Accordance 13 Bible Software [Review]
7 Inspiring Bible Podcasts